Let the journey begin with a half-hour ferry ride across the infamous Death's Door passageway, take in the majestic surroundings that include deep blue water, rocky shoreline, lush forest, and uninhabited islands. Once you arrive, traverse throughout the Island visiting a cornucopia of attractions from museums, beaches, and parks to family owned eateries, famous pubs, and theatre events. Spend the night at one of the area's lodging establishments or camp before taking things one step further the next morning with another ferry ride to Rock Island State Park. Upon arriving, you'll discover a serene place where there's no cars, bikes, or stress — just trails to wander, a white sand beach to bask in the sun and the first lighthouse to oversee the surrounding waters, Potawatomie Lighthouse, a true maritime treasure open for tours May through October.
Events: "Celebrating Winter" Festival, Canoe & Kayak Race, ANC Music Festival, Washington Island Fair, Death's Door Barbeque, Cider Pressing Party & Fall Festival
Local Communities - The Doors of Door County
Southern Door County retains a rural, small-town charm that lets visitors know they are leaving their urban stress behind them. Rolling fields are dotted with distinctive red brick Belgian farmhouses. The Brussels and Namur communities host the country's largest concentration of Belgians, earning Southern Door a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The bayside shoreline features some of the best spring and summer smallmouth bass fishing in the Midwest and superb ice fishing in the winter.
Sturgeon Bay, named Wisconsin's friendliest small town, is the county seat and the only city on the peninsula.
Settled in 1835, its economy originally was based on lumbering. That changed, however, when the canal linking Green Bay and Lake Michigan opened to shipping in 1881.
Clustered along Highway 42 halfway between Sturgeon Bay and Egg Harbor, the tiny community of Carlsville has been small in size but big in spirit throughout the past century and a half.
When Door County was being settled, it was unusual for a community to develop inland, away from the lake or the bay, but that's just what this unincorporated community did.
In 1869, Jacksonport became the last of Door County's communities to be formally organized. Settled in 1848 as a lumber town, the community was named after Andrew Jackson, a logger and prominent business owner in the community.
Concerned for his passengers and cargo, Bailey kept watch for a place in which to ride out the storm. Late that night he found a quiet cove where he could drop anchor until the storm passed and his journey could be resumed.In October 1848, a cargo ship loaded with lumber and carrying several passengers left Racine, bound for Detroit. That evening the ship, commanded by Capt. Justin Bailey, encountered a violent storm. Buffeted by high winds and heavy rain, the ship pitched and rolled in the angry Lake Michigan waters.
There are several conflicting stories about how Egg Harbor got its name. One of the favorites, however, has to do with an incident that allegedly occurred in 1825, 28 years before the village was founded and 36 years before it gained official status.
Door County's first community, Sturgeon Bay, was settled by Increase Claflin in 1835. Nine years later, following a frightening confrontation between his son-in-law and local Indians, Claflin moved his family north to Fish Creek.
In the spring of 1853, 40 Norwegian Moravians, led by the Rev. Andrew Iverson, settled the area around Eagle Harbor. The hardy pioneers named their community Ephraim, a biblical term that means fruitful.
Sister Bay, Door County's largest community north of Sturgeon Bay, was settled in 1857 by Norwegian immigrants. Originally two communities, Big Sister Bay and Little Sister Bay, the Village of Sister Bay was formally created in 1912. From 1859 until 1912 both communities were governed by the Town of Liberty Grove.
Washington Island welcomes you to Door County's only year-round island community and the largest of Door County's thirty-four named islands with over 35 beautiful square miles and over 100 miles of roads to explore and enjoy.
ELLISON BAY / ROWLEYS BAY / GILLS ROCK
Northern Door County hosts an abundance of wonder, artistic gusto and the most breathtaking scenery around. The "Top of the Thumb" is highlighted by the communities of Ellison Bay, Rowleys Bay and Gills Rock. These three communities share much in terms of charm but each offers sights and activities that distinguish it from the others.